Welcome back! In this episode we bid farewell to the Middle Ages and time hop 1000 years into the future, 1994, which is our…well, past now. If you didn’t read the review of Awakening Part 1, do it. I’ll wait.
I’m going to review these as if we haven’t seen the whole series. But since there’s so much to discuss when we have seen the whole series, I’ll touch on those points in the “20/20 moment” sections. You’re welcome.
Season 1, Episode 2: Awakening, Part 2
Reason(s) for existence: Second episode! Introduce setting that will continue for the rest of the series, as well as push the gargoyles’ story forward.
Main antagonist(s): Hakon the Viking, Modern-day Mercenaries
Time(s): October 4th 1994, October 1st 994 AD.
Location(s): New York City, New York, USA. Castle Wyvern, Scotland.
The second episode of a series has an even tougher job than the pilot ep: hold the audience’s interest while advancing the story.
Before we jump in, time for…
According to Greg: Greg Weisman and his cohorts at first envisioned Gargoyles as a comedic, cartoony show. No, I’m not kidding. Disney’s Gummi Bears was the closest analog, and it influenced the early concept of Gargoyles heavily. Wiki says, “Gummi Bears are a fictional group of anthropomorphic bears who have a long and rich history, and are relatively unknown to the humans of the world who believe that they are legends and fairy tales.” They used to live peacefully with humans, but something unknown, likely human greed, happened to cause the Bears to flee. “The ancient Great Gummis left behind small, scattered populations of bears to watch over the Gummi cities and warrens, such as the main group of the series, the Gummi-Glen Gummis, to await the time when humans and Gummis could peacefully co-exist so they could then summon the Great Gummis to return home.”
Disney’s Eisner didn’t like the idea, though, which forced Greg and Co. back to the drawing board. That was probably the last good decision regarding programming Eisner made.
994 AD, Castle Wyvern, Scotland
After the (familiar) opening that was at the end of the last ep, we get a recap of last episode. Gargoyles uses the recaps not only to reorient viewers, but also to hit that 22 minute time.
We roll into the continuation. Goliath and Gray Beard find the entire clan demolished – all except the trio and the dog-goyle, who were grounded in the rookery. The rookery eggs are fine.
They have a few seconds of sadness before Goliath decides to put their anger to good use: follow the Vikings to save the humans and, more importantly, wreak his vengeance on Hakon for killing the clan.
To the Vikings go the spoils
At the Viking camp, we find the soldiers feasting on the spoils.
Little blond Tom from last ep is there with his mom. He believes the gargoyles will rescue them. He somehow doesn’t suffer from the prejudice of his fellow refugees against the gargs. Currently his job in the show is to make us care about the refugees.
20/20 moment: Other than Princess Katherine, we’ll see more of Tom’s life/history than any other character’s. Once you know he’ll be the guardian of the eggs, this scene becomes powerful. It’s ironic that he sides with Katherine, who was once a hater of the gargoyles.
Hakon and Captain are in a cave nearby, with Princess Katherine and Magus tied up a few feet away. The baddies are discussing the nobles’ fate. Hakon knows Magus is worth more alive. Cap points out that Katherine is worth a ransom from her uncle “the king.” (Of what? Scotland wasn’t very unified at the time.)
This ransom wrangling is historically accurate. Even in battle, enemies usually refrained from killing the knights (nobility), since ransoms put bread on the table.
While Hakon and Cap wrangle, Hakon rips pages from Magus’s spell book and burns them. Magus screams his protests. Hakon knows a sorcerer’s power comes from written spells, so he hits Magus where it hurts. It’s a risk, since he’s losing spells, but it’s worth it.
Enter the remaining gargoyles, all six of them.
Kat warns Hakon that he’s a dead man.
Katherine wrenches free of Hakon’s grasp and flees the cave. Good idea. Hakon and Captain chase her. If she didn’t get them out of the cave, they’d go somewhere the gargoyle’s wings and size would they’ll hinder him. I’m thinking…the back of the cave maybe, or some sort of tunnel.
Meanwhile, Magus begins freeing himself from the ropes.
Goliath follows Hakon, while the others take on the…entire Viking army. And win. Wow.
Magus bursts out of the cave in a rage. He thinks Hakon has killed Katherine. Magus blames the gargs for this, because if they hadn’t attacked, Hakon would’ve just asked for a ransom. As revenge, he casts a spell from the book Hakon was destroying:
“Dormiatis dum castellum super nubes ascendat!” – May you sleep until the castle rises above the clouds!
(Translation from The Gargoyles Fan Website.)
Pink mist swirls around the gargoyles – all except Goliath, who’s off seeking vengeance. They struggle, but the spell…turns them to stone. At night.
Vengeance is mine:
Meanwhile, Goliath has chased Hakon, Captain, and Katherine to the cliffs on the coast. The humans are right at the edge. Hakon uses Kat as a hostage. I’m also surprised and a bit disappointed that Hakon didn’t stand and fight. The man didn’t have a problem when a monster was dangling him 100+ feet over the ground.
When you fight, there’s always a chance. When you let others call the shots, you lose. You also lose when you make enemies of your allies and forget who your real enemy is.
While facing the enraged Goliath and standing at the edge of a cliff, Hakon puts the blame on the Captain. Cap calls Hakon a liar. I guess Cap has a short memory. They struggle and, shockingly, pitch off the edge of the cliff. Princess Katherine also loses her balance.
As the villains plummet into the darkness of a Disney Death in the waters and rocks below, Goliath catches her. Despite all she’s said about him and how she’s mistreated him, he plays the hero. He can’t help it.
According to Greg: The standards and policies, aka the censors, would allow deaths as long as they either weren’t visible, or they weren’t easily replicated by normal people. So, falling off a cliff into the darkness below is fine, even though it’s clear they smashed into rocks below. Being consumed by a magical item onscreen is also fine, since you can’t go out and throw a magical orb of death at the school bully. The liaison between the crew and the censors knew exactly how to play it so Gargoyles came out on top.
Goliath is rightfully pissed. He roars, “I am denied everything, even my revenge!”
As we’ll see, revenge and its consequences is a huge, huge theme in Gargoyles. It’s actually one of the core themes. So far we’ve seen how Captain’s revenge for mistreatment of himself and the gargoyles ended: he’s dead and so are most of the gargoyles. Magus’s revenge has frozen the gargoyles in stone. Goliath’s efforts to wreak vengeance almost ended with Kat’s death. We’ll see villains across the vengeance spectrum, from those who believe revenge is a reason to live, to those who believe revenge is a sucker’s game.
Goliath returns to find his remaining family and friends as stone statues. It’s a painful scene. Goliath has seen the shattered bodies of his family, and now he sees his only remaining friends petrified.
To his credit, Magus is extremely regretful of his actions when he realizes he jumped the gun and blew their best chance at restoring their loss. But as with so many of our mistakes in life, he can’t undo it. Why? Hakon burned the counter spell. As it stands now, it’s an undoable counter: raise the castle above the clouds. To the creator of the spell, that was like saying “when Hell freezes over.”
He carries them to the castle and places them in their graves, so to speak, on the parapets. Then he charges Katherine and Magus with guarding the eggs. Next…he asks Magus to cast the spell one more time.
Let’s break this down. You could argue that Goliath wants to be around if/when his people wake up. But Goliath knows that there’s no way to break the spell. He’s essentially committing suicide.
And what about the eggs? There are a lot of ’em. He put two humans who aren’t known for their love of gargoyle kind in charge of their care and feeding. The future of the clan rests with a few people who…have to make it across the country and hope for shelter with Katherine’s relatives. Goliath doesn’t even consider, or appear to consider, raising them himself, or sticking with Kat and Magus to help them out.
I realize it has to be this way to move the story along, but it makes him look rather selfish. He’s taking the “easy” way out. Despite being clan leader, he’s leaving his kid(s) and those of his friends and family to a very, very uncertain fate. I’m writing it off to him not thinking straight after all that’s happened.
Magus casts the spell. Goliath joins his friends in eternal stone sleep.
Did anybody see this turn of events coming? The stone sleep bit, I mean. Now we’re getting the picture about what may be going on in NYC and how the gargoyles are around in the present. We’re assuming they’re around, anyway. The show is called GARGOYLES, after all. We never saw the top of that skyscraper that was raining rocks and DM lighting. Are we suspecting there’s a castle in there? We probably aren’t, since the idea of sticking a 1000-year-old castle on top of a skyscraper in New York City is unique and ingenious.
But I digress. Leaving us here is a great place to cut. We’re still in shock after seeing all the gargoyles turn to stone. We’re dying to know how they “get out of this.” We saw the opening this time, so we know that we’re set primarily in the present (okay, mid 1990s). We figured this last ep when we started out in NYC.
We’re also wondering who the new villains will be. No Vikings in NYC. They’re all in Minnesota, and the Packers are keeping them down, so what will the heroes face?
Check back this Friday for part 2 of our Awakening episode review! We will at long last – it seemed long to me, anyway – meet the new breed of antagonists and villains. I for one can’t wait to take a closer look at my favorite antagonists, David Xanatos and Owen Burnett. They really don’t get enough credit, except for maybe on Greg XB’s Blog of Clue-By-Fours. Different Greg from Weisman, by the way.
Penny for your thoughts?
Thoughts on the first half of Awakening part 2? Leave them in the comments!